Renewable Mini-/Micro-Grid Training Center on Pha Ba island, Vietnam (Now managed by SEA-RAE)
Led by an experienced builder of durable institutions for sustainability in Vietnam, this project addresses interconnected problems involving energy, transport, climate change, and local capacity building. It will 1) develop and implement an “enhanced” solar micro-/mini-grid as a market-based financial and technical model for similar communities; and 2) serve as a training and exhibition site for students, officials, researchers, and the public.
Pho Ba island, in the Mekong Delta, has roughly 1,450 inhabitants in 320 households. It has no grid connection: higher-income households (approximately 175) use expensive diesel generators and batteries for power. Lower-income houses use kerosene lamps and local cell-phone charging services. Local authorities wish to provide Pho Ba, a semi-rural community of aquaculturists, rice cultivators, and workers, with solar energy.
Vietnam is desperate for power solutions. The project team and partners will work with national authorities on large-scale policy (ie., feed-in-tariffs and renewable generation regulations), while developing affordable, culturally appropriate, and sustainable solutions to suit Pho Ba’s power needs, which run from cell-phone charging to mechanical fish mincing. A market-based solution, with significant local ownership of energy resources, is a common goal.
The Mekong Delta faces increasing stress from the effects of climate change, especially shifting hydrological patterns. The Pho Ba training center will serve as a test bed for resilient systems with respect to energy. Addressing Vietnam’s acute vehicle emissions problem, it will also explore integrated transport solutions, such as energy storage in swappable motorbike batteries. Other technical goals include biomass generation and providing services (eg., reactive power), to the larger grid.
Stakeholders include the Berkeley Rural Energy Group (led by Prof. Dan Kammen); Green Cities Fund (California non-profit); Enerteam (Vietnamese energy research non-profit); Dept. of Industry and Trade, An Giang province; People’s Committee, My Hoa Hung commune; local and global citizens, technicians, and entrepreneurs.
The Applications of Big Data and Information Communication Technologies in Development (ICT+D)
This interdisciplinary research group is working to analyze ways in which ICT and big data can be better used in development applications. Projects range from exploring ways in which adaptive information techniques (such as network allocation plans or the use of wireless networks) could make for a much more resilient urban and rural infrastructure, design and implementing a mobile and low-cost monitoring infrastructure for automobile traffic flow, and assessing how ICTs impact the energy access product value chain in Kenya
Rural Energy Technology/Policy Wiki
Members of BREG are working on developing a crowdsourced online platform, or wiki, for supporting rural energy development initiatives, with four principal features: distributed editing; peer review; behavioral data mining; and geospatial mapping. The first such energy wiki of its kind, BREG’s Crowd-Power platform, will help speed transitions to higher and healthier living standards in the developing world. The platform will be of interest not only to NGO technicians and end-users in developing countries, but also to researchers across the UC system that are currently looking at rural energy development.
Market Analysis in Select Latin American Countries for Decentralized Power
Select BREG members are working with the Alliance for Rural Electrification to determine market conditions for companies that work in the rural electrification space. Toghether with ARE analysts, BREG members are collecting data on regulatory frameworks, electrification statistics, power network quality and reliability, energy and fuel costs, ongoing and future electrification initiatives, and other relevant content. Reports will be made publicly available shortly.